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Ronald A. Lindsay

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Ron Lindsay is senior research fellow at the Center for Inquiry, having previously served as president and CEO from 2008 to 2016. Prior to joining CFI, he was in private legal practice in Washington, D.C. for twenty-six years. He received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Georgetown University and his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law. Among other works, he is the author of Future Bioethics: Overcoming Taboos, Myths, and Dogmas (Prometheus 2008), the entry on “Euthanasia” for the International Encyclopedia of Ethics (Wiley Blackwell 2013), and The Necessity of Secularism: Why God Can’t Tell Us What To Do (Pitchstone Publishing 2014).

Blasphemy and Other “Hate Speech”

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
September 30, 2017

During my tenure as president and CEO—in 2009, to be precise—CFI established International Blasphemy Rights Day (September 30, in case you forgot). It’s one of the accomplishments I take some pride in.

Biotech and the Poverty of Religious Morality

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
May 30, 2017

Advances in biotechnology present some critical and challenging ethical issues. How to resolve these issues will and should be a subject of much debate, but there is one thing that is certain: religion will be of no help in addressing these issues.

Why Skepticism?

Skeptical Inquirer Volume 41.2, March/April 2017

Feature

The issues we address are only “soft” targets in the sense that there may be little scientific support for some of these claims. But these claims actually can be very resilient because of ideological support or commercial interests.

Israel, the Two-State Solution, and Humanity’s Flaws

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 16, 2017

Let’s forget history for a moment, or at least as much history as is not absolutely necessary for understanding the present situation of Israel and the Palestinian people. Let’s also pretend for a moment that we are all rational, forward-looking beings, who are committed to universal human rights, including the right to a democratic government.

The Trump Presidency: A Second Harding Administration?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
January 13, 2017

The inauguration of Donald Trump is only a week away and the many who dread the incoming administration are busy bewailing the coming catastrophe. The terms “fascist” and “fascism” feature prominently in their denunciations and historical analogies to Hitler or Mussolini are liberally offered. Just the other day, a full-page ad appeared in the Washington Post courtesy of refusefascism.org. The ad, bearing the signatures of a number of prominent individuals, flatly states that “by any definition, Donald Trump is a fascist.” This claim is not unique. Some respected political commentators have made the same accusation.

Male Circumcision: It Should Not Be a Major Concern for Humanists

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
December 13, 2016

A not insignificant percentage of humanists and secularists are strongly opposed to male circumcision, to the point of wanting to ban it. The vehemence of their opposition is not warranted by the evidence regarding the effects of circumcision: it is not medically necessary, but it is not harmful (assuming appropriate analgesics are used) and it provides small benefits. 

My Debate at the YPU: Religion Has No Place in Government

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
November 17, 2016

The Yale Political Union invited me and the Christian writer/scholar Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig to debate this topic: Resolved: Religion Should Have No Place in Government.

Islamic Extremists Don’t Have To Be Islamic Scholars

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 22, 2016

This past week, the Associated Press published a story based on its analysis of leaked Islamic State (ISIS) recruitment documents. These documents indicate that, based on the recruits’ own self-evaluation, most ISIS recruits have only a basic knowledge of Islam. Some have argued that these “findings suggest religion has nothing to do with people joining [ISIS].”

What Is the Proper Punishment for Sexual Assault?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
June 19, 2016

Before we decide what the proper sentence is in a particular criminal case, we should be able to explain what purpose the punishment serves.

Assisted Dying: For Whom?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
May 20, 2016

In the United States, there continues to be intense debate over whether assisted dying should be legalized— for anybody. By contrast, in some European countries, as well as in Canada, the debate is no longer over whether it should be legalized. Instead, the debate now focuses on who should be entitled to assistance in dying.

Threats to Religious Liberty: Real and Imagined

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 26, 2016

Religious liberty is under attack. A number of presidential candidates have made this claim, and it was one of the key issues in Thursday night’s Republican debate. One of the moderators, Hugh Hewitt of Salem Radio, even asserted that his worries about religious liberty keep him up at night.

On the Pursuit of Meditation: Buddha vs. Faust

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 21, 2016

Should we meditate? If so, to what extent? What benefits can we realistically expect from meditation? And what might we be sacrificing to engage in meditation? Is devoting a substantial amount of time to meditation ethically questionable?

Justice Scalia and Originalism: May They Rest in Peace

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 15, 2016

As a jurist, Antonin Scalia will likely be remembered most for championing the “originalist” view of constitutional law, that is, the view that in determining how constitutional provisions should be applied today, we need to adhere without deviation to the “original” meaning of the provisions. Scalia maintained this is the only legitimate way for an unelected judiciary to apply the Constitution because otherwise they would be acting as legislators. Scalia repeatedly heaped scorn on the view that judges should interpret constitutional provisions in light of contemporary conditions and standards.

A Modest Proposal for Achieving Secular Objectives

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
January 26, 2016

A state court in Florida has determined that the state can finance a Christian ministry that provides biblically based rehabilitation services because the program has a secular objective, namely rehabilitation, and no one is compelled to participate in the program. A federal court has ruled that Ken Ham’s Arc Encounter theme park is entitled to a tax incentive because even though the park is intended to promote a religious message, the tax dollars will serve the secular objective of promoting tourism, and no one is compelled to visit the theme park.

Addressing Two Dogmas on Prostitution

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 17, 2015

Back in May, I promised (threatened, some might say) to write a few blog posts on issues where I think too many humanists base their views on preconceptions, preconceptions that in some instances border on dogmas in the sense that they are resistant to conflicting empirical evidence. I’m a bit behind schedule, but this is my second post in that series.

Available in the Print Edition. Subscribe Here.

The Future of the Center for Inquiry

Skeptical Inquirer Volume 39.5, September/October 2015

Special Essay

I’m not saying you’re vengeful; you’re just deficient in empathy

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
May 26, 2015
I’m not saying you’re vengeful; you’re just deficient in empathy
So I wrote a blog post the other day the principal point of which was to argue for the proposition that it is not enough to be correct in your conclusion on a policy issue. How you arrive at your conclusion is also very important. I used the dispute over the death penalty as an illustration. A blogger vigorously objected to my post. In so doing, he confirmed the relevance of the point I was making.

Questioning Humanist Orthodoxy: Introduction to a Series

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
May 18, 2015
About ten days ago, I wrote an essay for Huffington Post on the death penalty, in particular, focusing on how some of those who oppose the death penalty support imprisonment in a supermax facility as a supposedly more humane alternative—a position I find logically dubious if not hypocritical. The recent decision of the Dzhohkar Tsarnaev jury to sentence him to death made me think about this issue again. It also made me think about how humanists all too often commit the cardinal intellectual sin of many of the religious. That is, they hold certain principles as beyond question. This is not a good thing.

We Should Not Evaluate Teachers Based on Student Test Scores

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
April 15, 2015
We at the Center for Inquiry don’t typically address how best to evaluate teacher performance, but we are an educational institution. Moreover, we’re an institution that is committed to basing public policy on sound science. Using student test scores to determine teacher pay or whether a teacher should retain a job is a policy not based on science, but rather politics and deceptive intuitions.

Hemant Mehta Did Not “Endorse” a Hate Forum

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
April 9, 2015
As I’ve announced, I’m leaving CFI in December. Wish I could say that in the seven years I’ve been with CFI as president, the level of discourse in the atheist/skeptic community has improved. But I can’t say that. If anything, it may have become worse.

Resignation Announcement

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 23, 2015
I have informed the board of directors for the Center for Inquiry that I will be resigning my position as president and CEO on December 31, 2015.

The Netanyahu Pirouette and the Obligations of the Israeli State

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 20, 2015
So Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, has rejected a two-state solution. No, wait, that was the other day. He actually accepts, indeed, wants, a two-state solution. But hang on: it has to be under the right circumstances.

Pope Francis: About Your Mother

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
January 15, 2015

Pope Francis has given his opinion on the controversy surrounding Charlie Hebdo's continued sharp criticism and sarcasm regarding religious beliefs. The pope has stated that there should be limits to free expression. In particular, one should not "insult the faith of others." He analogized criticism of religious beliefs to someone cursing his mother, saying that such a person "can expect a punch."

Pope Francis is wrong.

Islam, Religious Dogmatism, and Terrorism

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
December 19, 2014
Recent terror attacks in Pakistan, Nigeria, and elsewhere have renewed discussion of whether it’s appropriate to use terms such as “Islamist” or “Islamic terrorist” to describe the perpetrators of such attacks. Some say that these terms unfairly denigrate and stigmatize the majority of Muslims who reject terrorism.

Physician-Assisted Dying and Same-Sex Marriage: The Connection

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
November 17, 2014
Two major changes in the American legal landscape are in progress, although one change is further along than the other. I'm referring to the legalization of same-sex marriage and physician-assisted dying (PAD), a.k.a. physician-assisted suicide. Same-sex marriage is now legal in over thirty states and, depending on action by the Supreme Court, may soon be legal nationwide. PAD is currently legal in only four states, but initiatives to legalize the practice are underway in several other states. Just last Thursday, the New Jersey Assembly passed a bill that would legalize PAD in that state.

A Statement from CFI’s Management Committee

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
November 12, 2014
As a rule, the Center for Inquiry (CFI) does not disclose to the public the medical conditions of its employees. We respect the privacy of our employees and public disclosure of this information could violate the law. However, the situation discussed in this statement is exceptional.

Some Observations on One Aspect of the 2014 Elections

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
November 6, 2014
Everyone is talking about the new Republican majority in the Senate. This is significant. It gives the Republican Party complete control of Congress. It will also make it very difficult for President Obama to have his judicial nominees approved by the Senate. But perhaps more significant in the long term are the Republican gains in the House of Representatives.

International Blasphemy Rights Day 2014

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
September 29, 2014
Tuesday, September 30, is International Blasphemy Day Rights Day (IBRD). Moreover, it’s the fifth anniversary of the Center for Inquiry’s launch of IBRD.  It is an appropriate time to take stock of the state of freedom of religious belief and expression in the world.  Unfortunately, it’s not a terribly encouraging picture.

The Latest Harris Book/The Latest Harris Controversy

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
September 18, 2014
As you may have heard, Sam Harris has a new book out, Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion. Based on what I've heard about it so far, and what I've managed to read (to date, just the first chapter), it raises some interesting questions.

Reframing the Debate Over the Pledge: Make God Optional

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
September 2, 2014
Children are back in school and, as part of their daily routine, most of them will be expected to participate in the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance. Recitation of the Pledge is a requirement under the laws of over forty states.

Three Observations on Ferguson

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 18, 2014
The first observation is one the Center for Inquiry has already made, and in its official capacity, but it bears repeating. Although we recognize that the police (and now, apparently, the National Guard), have an obligation to maintain public order, that obligation must be fulfilled in a manner consistent with respect for our fundamental freedoms, including the right to peacefully assemble and protest.

Five Fully-Conscious (I Promise) Book Recommendations

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
July 24, 2014
I’ve actually read most of four books in the space of about 12 days. No, I’m not on vacation and I’m not a speed-reader. It’s insomnia.

Some Observations on the Seventh Circuit’s Decision

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
July 17, 2014
As many of you know by now, the Center for Inquiry—actually, scratch that—all nonreligious Americans achieved a significant victory in federal appeals court on Monday. I want to discuss briefly some of the implications of that decision.

The Burzynski Case: The FDA’s Failure to Prevent Exploitation of Desperate Patients

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
July 6, 2014
As supporters of CFI are aware, we critically examine not only religion but also pseudoscience.  Some regard these as distinct enterprises with little overlap.  As you might expect, most of us at CFI view things differently. 

Eugenie C. Scott Given CFI/CSI Lifetime Achievement Award

Skeptical Inquirer Volume 38.2, March/April 2014

Conference Report
Eugenie C. Scott Given CFI/CSI Lifetime Achievement Award

Here are the remarks by CFI President and CEO Ronald A. Lindsay at the CFI Summit in Tacoma presenting the organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award to Eugenie C. Scott.

The Uncomfortable, but Necessary Question: Should We Have Six Catholic Justices on the Court?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
June 30, 2014
The Uncomfortable, but Necessary Question: Should We Have Six Catholic Justices on the Court?
In its decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., the Supreme Court has decided that the religious beliefs of employers, including closely held corporations, take precedence over the rights of employees to necessary medical care. The specific medical care to which the employers objected was certain forms of contraception. The five justices who decided that these employers’ objections were entitled to deference are all Catholics. (One Catholic justice, Sotomayor—a woman—dissented from the majority ruling.)

Religion Has No Answer for Sectarianism

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
June 23, 2014
In Iraq, we are witnessing yet again the tremendous harm caused by religious fanaticism.  One interesting aspect of the present conflict is that it largely pits Muslim against Muslim, with some fanatics in the Sunni tradition battling devoted adherents of the Shia tradition.  Both traditions, of course, rely on the Qur’an as the ultimate authoritative text.  So why the conflict? 

Secularism and Health Care

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
June 4, 2014
Secularism is about more than keeping religious mottoes off our coins or crèches off the courthouse steps. Secularism insists that our public polices be based on reason and evidence, not religious dogma.

Saints and Sexuality

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
April 26, 2014
Saints and Sexuality
As the whole world knows by now, former pontiffs John XXIII and John Paul II are about to be officially recognized by the Catholic Church as saints. According to Catholic doctrine this means, among other things, that these persons are worthy of being venerated as models of heroic sanctity. Also, they can intercede for you before God. You know, you can’t just walk into God the Father’s office to ask for something. He’s the chairman of the board! No, you get a saint to slip him a note so you can get a couple of minutes of the boss’s time.

The Embarrassment of Noah

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 31, 2014
One of the persistent criticisms of the so-called New Atheists—Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, et al.—is that many of their arguments, although directed against religious belief in general, are really relevant only for fundamentalists. Sure, if you interpret the Bible literally, God comes across as a homicidal, genocidal, misogynistic monster, but this crude understanding of scripture is held only by ignorant believers, who, at most, constitute a substantial minority of the faithful.  Therefore, the New Atheists present a distorted view of religion and show little understanding of the mindset of “moderate” religionists.  The moderate religionists do not believe the Bible provides us with a literally true history of ancient times, nor do they regard the Bible, in particular the Old Testament, as providing an accurate conception of God and God’s relationship to humanity. 

God, Incorporated: Observations on the Hobby Lobby Argument

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 25, 2014
Today, I attended the Supreme Court argument in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores. The case is a complex one, with several distinct issues that need to be resolved. In this post, I will briefly address one of those issues, namely whether a for-profit corporation can claim a religious identity and an entitlement to an exemption under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

Evidence-Based Reasoning: Comments on a Blog Post

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 27, 2014
Evidence-Based Reasoning. This is a phrase you hear skeptics use a lot. We at CFI use it. We firmly believe in the importance of evidence-based reasoning and critical thinking. This is one reason I’m disappointed in Ben Radford’s recent post. Ben has done some good work for this organization over the years, but I’m afraid this latest post may have been written in some haste.

Should Catholic Judges Recuse Themselves from the Contraceptive Mandate Cases?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
December 26, 2013
I believe Catholics can be good citizens. I also think Catholic judges and justices can fulfill their obligation to respect and enforce the Constitution and laws of the United States. However, I’m not sure the Catholic Church considers a judge’s oath of office to take precedence over the judge’s obligation to avoid being complicit in evil. This is troubling—because the Church has a very broad understanding of what it means to be complicit in evil.

Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
November 19, 2013
Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty
Hawaii recently became the fifteenth state to legalize same-sex marriage. As more and more states recognize same-sex marriage, there’s been some noise about how legalization of same-sex marriage may infringe on freedom of conscience and violate the rights of some religious believers. As far as I can tell, this is a needless worry.  In fact, the lack of any legitimate basis for concern makes one suspect this hand-wringing over the supposed threat to religious liberty is merely a veiled attempt to derail the movement to legalize same-sex marriage.

Negligent Homicide, Not Murder

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
November 13, 2013
I have received a number of comments on my blog post the other day re the oral argument in Town of Greece v. Galloway. Some have agreed with my assessment. (And some who wrote about the argument independently made a similar assessment.) Others have said my judgment was far too harsh or unfair. Critics have focused on my assertion that the plaintiffs’ counsel threw atheists under the bus. These critics have insisted that the attorney didn’t have much choice when he indicated the concerns of atheists did not have to be considered in shaping a remedy because he could not have argued that prayer should be eliminated entirely—not if he wanted to win the case.

“We’ve Already Excluded the Atheists, Right?”

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
November 7, 2013
“We’ve Already Excluded the Atheists, Right?”
This was the question Chief Justice Roberts posed yesterday to the attorney representing the plaintiffs in Town of Greece v. Galloway — plaintiffs meaning the people challenging the town’s prayer practice. Roberts was asking whether the concerns of atheists had to be considered in determining whether the prayer practice is constitutional. And, incredibly, the plaintiffs’ attorney responded, “We’ve excluded the atheists.” In other words, to all atheists: Your concerns don’t matter. You’re not part of the community. You’re a special case and your constitutional rights are limited. Or, if you prefer blunter language, eat shit.

Council of Elders

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
November 6, 2013
Council of Elders
The United States purports to be a democracy. In reality, it is ruled by a Council of Elders. No, I’m not a conspiracy theorist.

The Pledge Issue: Consider It Again For The First Time

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 22, 2013
The Pledge Issue: Consider It Again For The First Time
I probably don't have to tell most readers of this blog that many nonreligious individuals strongly object to state laws that mandate recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools. I probably also don't have to tell most readers that all legal challenges to these laws have heretofore failed. However, there may now be at least a slim chance that this losing streak will come to an end.

What I Wrote To Scientific American

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 12, 2013
On August 8, I wrote to the relevant editors at Scientific American after Dr. Karen Stollznow posted her blog piece about sexual harassment. I did so because Dr. Stollznow’s piece contained several inaccuracies, which were repeated in blogs and then showed up in letters to me. These inaccuracies are damaging to the reputation of the Center for Inquiry, an organization to which I have a fiduciary obligation. I asked Scientific American to issue an apology and make three specific corrections. I did not ask for the post to be removed. In my view, it would have been preferable if it had remained posted, but with the corrections. Scientific American decided otherwise. My email to Scientific American appears below.

Some Remarks on My Talk at WIS2

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
June 22, 2013
It has been a few weeks since I have said anything in public about the controversy over my remarks at the Women in Secularism 2 conference.  As CFI announced via Twitter, this pause was to enable the board to have time to consider the matter.  The board has issued its statement.  It is now an appropriate time for me to make some remarks. 

Statement Re My May 18 Blog Post

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
May 23, 2013
The decision to issue the following statement is my own decision, and is not the result of any instruction or pressure, direct or indirect, from anyone, including, but not limited to, members of the CFI board of directors.

Watson’s World and Two Models of Communication

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
May 18, 2013
Rebecca Watson inhabits an alternate universe.  At least that is the most charitable explanation I can provide for her recent smear.  Watson has posted comments on my opening talk at Women in Secularism 2.  It may be the most intellectually dishonest piece of writing since the last communique issued by North Korea. 

A Few Examples of “Shut Up and Listen”

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
May 18, 2013
So I gave a talk yesterday afternoon in which I emphasized how horrible it was that women had been suppressed for thousands of years, and, on many matters, had been instructed to remain silent.  As I stated at the end of my talk, this enforced silence robbed women of their humanity, and I indicated that CFI was committed to working toward a society in which the autonomy of women would be respected and, among other things, they would be free to express themselves however they wanted. 

My Talk at WIS2

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
May 17, 2013

There has been some discussion, including many tweets, about my talk today at Women in Secularism 2. I think some of the comments have been highly misleading. One of the principal points of my talk was the critical importance of advocacy for women's rights, and how this advocacy was integral to CFI's mission. This is something I emphasized at the beginning and end of my talk. You wouldn't realize this from some of the comments. Anyway, here is the text of my talk (note the video recording may differ slighly, as I did not read it word-for-word; also grammar and punctuation probably are amiss in places, as it was intended for my eyes only).

 

 

Catholic-Atheist Dialogue—or Just a Soft Sell?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
May 11, 2013
Catholic-Atheist Dialogue—or Just a Soft Sell?
I read The Morning Heresy. If I didn’t do that and watch the Colbert Report, I would never find out what’s happening.  So the other day, an item caught my eye: Leah Libresco announcing a new forum for Catholic-atheist dialogue

Those Filthy Women: The Catholic Church’s Objections to the HHS Rule on Contraceptive Care

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
April 8, 2013
Those Filthy Women: The Catholic Church’s Objections to the HHS Rule on Contraceptive Care
As you probably know, back in August 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a proposed rule requiring employers to offer employees health insurance that provides preventive health care services. Based upon advice from the scientific and medical communities, these services include contraceptive care. Based upon advice from God, the Catholic Church has been engaged in an all-out war to kill the proposed rule.

Some Lessons from the LGBT Movement

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 28, 2013
Some Lessons from the LGBT Movement
The battle for same-sex marriage isn’t over, but the outcome is no longer in doubt.

He Who Doesn’t Pray to God Prays to the Devil

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 16, 2013
He Who Doesn’t Pray to God Prays to the Devil
Been gone for a few weeks. Living in a cave in north Pakistan. Little known fact: Al-Zawahiri snores.

Cats Versus Birds: The Limits of Ethics

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 3, 2013
Cats Versus Birds: The Limits of Ethics
Morality does not always provide us with a definitive answer about what’s right and what’s wrong, even when pain and suffering are involved.  This is especially true when we try to extend moral reasoning beyond its usual territory—as when we try to weigh benefits to cats against harm to birds.

Why the BSA Will Not Admit Atheists Any Time Soon

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
January 30, 2013
Why the BSA Will Not Admit Atheists Any Time Soon
The Boy Scouts of America appears to be ready to take a small, but significant step forward by changing its national policy prohibiting gay scouts. This is good news. Unfortunately, the BSA will continue to exclude atheists, and I predict the organization will continue to do this for some time.

The HEADS Meeting: Your Input Requested

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
January 9, 2013
I think it’s fairly common knowledge that the leaders of the various nationwide secular organizations have an annual meeting (called “HEADS”) to exchange ideas and discuss how we can best advance our shared objectives. This is your opportunity to give me some input prior to the meeting on a couple of specific topics.

The President’s Remarks and the Grief of Atheists

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
December 18, 2012
The President’s Remarks and the Grief of Atheists
President Obama gave a moving speech at the Newtown memorial service Sunday night. His remarks contained several explicitly religious references. I don’t care.

On Shunning Fellow Atheists and Skeptics

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
November 25, 2012
On Shunning Fellow Atheists and Skeptics
Shunning and boycotting may be gaining acceptance in the atheist and skeptic communities.   In particular, it appears they are being adopted as tactics against fellow atheists and skeptics.  This is regrettable.

A Distortion of Religious Liberty

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
November 19, 2012
A Distortion of Religious Liberty
Score one for the Catholic Church and everyone else who thinks religious liberty implies the right to impose their dogma on others. A federal judge has prohibited the Obama administration from requiring a publisher owned principally by a Christian foundation to provide its employees with contraceptive coverage, pursuant to the new health care law. The case is Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. v. Sebelius.

Available in the Print Edition. Subscribe Here.

Are Conservatives and Liberals Different People?

Skeptical Inquirer Volume 36.5, September/October 2012

Review

A review of The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science—and Reality by Chris Mooney

Some Curious GOP Campaign Literature

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
October 16, 2012
Some Curious GOP Campaign Literature
It’s presidential campaign season and I’ve received some literature from the Romney campaign that I find curious for a couple of reasons.

International Blasphemy Rights Day 2012

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
September 28, 2012
International Blasphemy Rights Day (IBRD)—September 30—is almost here, and that’s a good thing because freedom of expression can definitely use a rallying point. From many governments, there has been a stronger push to prohibit “offensive” speech about religion than we have witnessed in years.

Who Would Jesus Endorse—Pulpit Freedom Sunday

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
September 24, 2012
Who Would Jesus Endorse—Pulpit Freedom Sunday
On October 7, 2012, hundreds of clergy will intentionally defy the law by engaging in actions they might describe as coordinated civil disobedience. I view it as an unjustifiable defiance of the law and a constitutionally unsound attempt to get the government to subsidize political endorsements by clergy.

Divisiveness Within the Secular Movement

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
September 12, 2012
Greta Christina and PZ Myers have recently suggested that is it not necessarily a bad thing to be divisive.  True, it is not necessarily a bad thing.  It depends on what one is separating oneself from. 

Reality Check: The Nod to God

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
September 6, 2012
So the Democrats inserted God into the party platform. What did we expect?

Some Observations About Atheism Plus

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 27, 2012
WARNING: This post contains mild language, constructive criticism, occasional reasoning, and no invective (except by way of parody).

A Concise Review of a Clump of Matter

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 25, 2012
A Concise Review of a Clump of Matter
Just read the book, The Atheist’s Guide to Reality. It is a clump of matter. The author, Alex Rosenberg, assures it is. Further, as a clump of matter it cannot be about anything, because “one clump of matter can’t be about another clump of matter,” and clumps of matter (or more precisely, fermions and bosons) are all there is (emphasis in original).

The Nuns vs. Ryan: The Futility of Basing Public Policy on Religion

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 22, 2012
The Nuns vs. Ryan: The Futility of Basing Public Policy on Religion
An instructive reminder of the futility of trying to base public policy on religious doctrine is the current dispute between some politically progressive Catholics and Paul Ryan and his supporters regarding who is more faithful to Catholic teachings. 

Leaving Sanctity Behind

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 17, 2012
Leaving Sanctity Behind
Jonathan Haidt, in his recent book The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, claims that “sanctity” is one of the six foundations of moral psychology. Central to his claim is his argument that we find some actions abhorrent, yet we cannot explain how they harm anyone. According to Haidt, we regard these actions as immoral because they violate our sense of the sacred. We find them disgusting, degrading.

Religious Beliefs and Politics

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 13, 2012
One of the explicit goals of CFI is to end the influence that religion has on public policy. Obviously, we are adamantly opposed to any politician who seeks to impose her/his religious views on other Americans. That said, not everyone who is religious is a theocrat, and religious beliefs, by themselves, do not disqualify someone for office. Under our Constitution they cannot.

From London to Mars: Moving Forward with Science

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 6, 2012
From London to Mars: Moving Forward with Science
Promoting science is part of CFI’s mission. Presumably, most people reading this post do not need to be persuaded of the worth of this objective. Nonetheless, two recent events underscore just how marvelous a tool science is.

Be a Hero in Less Than Five Minutes

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
July 26, 2012
Be a Hero in Less Than Five Minutes
You can stand up for freedom of conscience without any danger to yourself—indeed without breaking a sweat. You can help someone who is being unjustly persecuted without leaving the comfort of your chair. You can advance the cause of freethought internationally without spending a dime. You can be a hero in less than five minutes. Here’s how.

Humanism and Wealth

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
July 12, 2012
Humanism and Wealth
There’s been a lot of talk in the secular blogosphere recently about sex and gender issues. This is an important set of topics, but just for a change of pace, I thought I would bring up another subject that can rev up our engines, namely money.

CFI’s New Policy on Hostile Conduct/Harassment at Conferences

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
June 29, 2012
Warning: the reaction of some of you to this post may be “tl;dr.” Fine, I’ve already posted some abbreviated comments on CFI’s new policy and you can limit yourself to reading those comments if you want. Others, however, may be interested in a longer discussion.

CFI’s New Policy on Hostile Conduct/Harassment at Conferences (Abridged Post)

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
June 29, 2012
CFI has issued a new policy on hostile conduct/harassment at its conferences. This post will provide an abridged explanation of why CFI issued this policy. A second post will provide a longer explanation and discuss how the policy will be administered.

Can We Drop “Balls”?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
June 11, 2012
Can We Drop “Balls”?

Many people, including many skeptics, atheists, and humanists, use the term “balls” or its myriad equivalents as a metaphor for courage, determination, resolve or similar attributes.  I suggest we should stop using such terms, for a pretty obvious reason: one doesn’t need testicles to be courageous, determined, or resolute.

Coming Out: Gay vs. Atheist

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
June 6, 2012
Coming Out: Gay vs. Atheist
June is LGBT Pride Month. And the LGBT movement can take pride in many accomplishments. In the space of a few decades, gays have moved from being pariahs and criminals to being generally accepted in many parts of the U.S. The transformation in the political, legal, and social landscape has been nothing short of astonishing.

What If The Catholic Church Wins?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
May 23, 2012
What If The Catholic Church Wins?
As you probably know, on Monday, a number of organizations affiliated with the Catholic Church, including various organizations that provide secular services, filed suit in several federal courts around the country. The lawsuits maintain that HHS has violated the First Amendment rights of these organizations by requiring them to include within their employees’ health care plans coverage for contraceptive care. Although these coordinated lawsuits smell like a publicity stunt — the lawsuits are premature since the regulation is not in effect — we should consider what the precedential effect would be of a Church victory.

We Can’t Stop Now

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
May 22, 2012
We Can’t Stop Now
Based on my own experience—let alone the many favorable reactions we have received from attendees and speakers—I think we need to have another Women in Secularism conference. When, where, and other logistical items that go into conference planning need to be discussed and determined over the next few months (we may even change the name), but we have to have another.

Edwina Rogers—An Inspired Choice?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
May 9, 2012
Edwina Rogers—An Inspired Choice?
I am becoming leery of taking trips overseas. It seems that controversies within the American secular movement tend to flair up soon after I flash my passport in some foreign land.

A Closer Look at The Republican Brain

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
April 15, 2012
A Closer Look at The Republican Brain
The Republican Brain is a well-written and informative book. I learned a lot from it. It’s also an important book. It advances a thesis that, if true, has significant implications for psychology, politics, and public policy. The book marshals a wide array of research in support of its thesis, and this research is accurately and perceptively summarized. However, I don’t believe there is sufficient evidence to support the book’s central claims.

The Republican Brain—Is It Sound Science?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
April 10, 2012
The Republican Brain—Is It Sound Science?
Chris Mooney is an experienced science journalist, a skilled writer, a great host for Point of Inquiry, and a friend. Not a close friend, but he is someone who has helped me and CFI on several occasions and I never forget a favor. But, paraphrasing Aristotle, although Chris is dear to me, so too is truth. I’m concerned that Chris’s new book may be advancing a thesis that lacks adequate scientific support.

And Why The Reason Rally Was But One Step Forward On A Long Road

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 29, 2012
The Reason Rally showed the secular movement has come a long way—but much remains to be accomplished.

A Brief Recap of The Reason Rally

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 29, 2012
A Brief Recap of The Reason Rally
The Reason Rally was a wonderful event—rain and all.  The Reason Rally was rightfully billed as a “coming out” party and a celebration.  We showed our fellow Americans that we have the numbers and the commitment to be taken seriously—and we had a great time doing so.  The speakers were eloquent, the entertainers were funny and engaging, and the crowd was uniformly upbeat. 

Shouldn’t Arizona Scrutinize How Men Are Using Viagra?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 16, 2012
Shouldn’t Arizona Scrutinize How Men Are Using Viagra?

In the controversy over contraceptive coverage for women in health care plans, things get crazier by the minute. Arizona is considering legislation that would permit religious employers to require women who want reimbursement for the cost of contraception to submit a claim, supported by evidence, that the pills are not being used for contraception, but to treat some other medical issue. Incredible, right?

Being Clear About Our Objectives

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 14, 2012
Being Clear About Our Objectives
Moving Secularism Forward, the joint conference of CFI and the Council for Secular Humanism, took place in Orlando a little over a week ago. The presentations at the conferences have generated a fair amount of commentary (for examples, see here and here). This is a good thing. One of the purposes of our conferences is to get people to think, to debate, and, in some cases, to look at issues from a different perspective.

Women in Secularism—A Conference for Everyone

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 24, 2012
Women in Secularism—A Conference for Everyone
CFI’s upcoming conference on Women in Secularism (register here) is most decidedly not a conference targeting an exclusively female audience. Yes, the speakers are all female and yes, the conference is focused on women’s concerns. But the concerns of women are not a concern for women only.

Contraception and Religious Liberty

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 20, 2012
Contraception and Religious Liberty
As everyone is aware, the Catholic Church and some other religious institutions have argued that the Obama administration’s rule requiring employers to include contraceptive care within the scope of their health insurance plans violates the freedom of conscience of “individuals and organizations.”  This argument distorts the First Amendment guarantees of religious liberty and makes use of a flawed and tendentious interpretation of the concept of conscientious objection.

Protect Zygotes and Corporations; Piss on Women

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 16, 2012
You may have noticed that in the last couple of years, there’s been an effort by some conservatives to extend rights of “personhood” to entities many of us don’t regard as persons, namely corporations and zygotes. Corporations and zygotes are not conceptually related, but, nonetheless, the extension of personhood rights to corporations may pave the way for the extension of personhood rights to zygotes. The latter action would, of course, limit the autonomy and reproductive rights of real persons, namely women.

Mohammed Was Not a Divinely Inspired Prophet and There Is No Allah

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 9, 2012
I know for many who read this blog, this assertion is hardly startling, but it is blasphemous, at least from an Islamic perspective. In fact, it’s probably the simplest, most direct blasphemous utterance one can make regarding Islam since it denies the central tenet of that faith. I thought today would be an especially appropriate day to make this assertion in light of the troubles encountered by the journalist Hamza Kashgari in Saudi Arabia.

Obama, the Prayer Breakfast, and Plato

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 6, 2012
Obama, the Prayer Breakfast, and Plato
Not much has been said in the atheist blogosphere about President Obama’s appearance and remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast on February 2. Probably a couple of reasons for this. The appearance in itself is not really news. Sadly, this is just what our presidents, Democrat or Republican, do. Also, I sense that not a few atheists think Obama should be cut some slack on church-state issues—both because he’s better than any alternative (can you imagine President Gingrich?) and because some suspect that on ceremonial occasions such as the National Prayer Breakfast, he’s just going through the motions. However, having reviewed his remarks, I think they merit some comment.

Hosanna-Tabor and the Weird Status of Religion

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
January 11, 2012
Today the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in the Hosanna-Tabor case that there is a “ministerial exception” to the nation’s laws forbidding discrimination in employment. The Court ruled that both religion clauses of the First Amendment—the Free Exercise Clause and the Establishment Clause—effectively provide religious institutions with absolute discretion to select their “ministers.” 

About Free Thinking

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
January 6, 2012
What is the cornerstone of CFI’s mission? Is it atheism or humanism? No, not really. Commitments to atheism or humanism or any other “ism” are conclusions we arrive at, presumably after consideration of the relevant evidence and arguments. The cornerstone of our mission is freedom of expression and critical inquiry. We see freedom of expression and critical inquiry as indispensable tools for arriving at an accurate understanding of just about any issue of importance, including, but not limited to, the truth of religious or fringe science claims. This brings me to the recent controversy concerning Ben Radford’s blog post on Free Thinking, as well as the related controversy about the blog Free Thinking itself.

“Between Consenting Adults”

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
January 6, 2012
“Between Consenting Adults”
Many of you have probably heard about the resignation of Catholic Bishop Gabino Zavala.  You may have heard of it without even becoming aware of it, because it is the type of news that no longer attracts special attention.  Another day, another sex scandal for the Catholic Church.  Nowadays, weather reports are likely to be more memorable.

Plantinga’s Closing Argument

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
January 3, 2012
Plantinga’s Closing Argument

Alvin Plantinga’s latest book, Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion and Naturalism, has received a fair amount of attention. Plantinga has even been written up in the New York Times. Having read most of his book, I will acknowledge that it confirms he is a clever polemicist. He can present a thoroughly fallacious argument with confidence, dressing it up so it appears superficially impressive.  God may not have a more skilled advocate. 

Atheist Boosters?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
December 12, 2011
Atheist Boosters?
CFI recently held a conference on the work of Daniel Dennett and the scientific investigation of religion. It may be the best conference I’ve ever attended. The presentations of the speakers were of uniformly high-quality—and I say that even for the speakers with whom I had some substantive disagreement. Interestingly, one such speaker was Gregory Paul, the independent researcher who has done some excellent work on the sociology of religious belief. Unfortunately, Paul seems to be in the camp of those who tend to inflate the number of atheists in the United States.

Flogging God

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
November 2, 2011
Flogging God
The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday passed overwhelmingly a resolution “reaffirming” the phrase “In God We Trust” as our national motto.  The vote was 396 to 9. The need for reaffirming of this motto was not clearly stated in the resolution, but the real motivation for this resolution is both too obvious and too unseemly to warrant acknowledgment: most politicians in this God-intoxicated country want to milk God for all the votes they can get. And, from a political standpoint, who can blame them? It’s proven to be a very successful tactic.

Cults, Religion, and the Presidency

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
October 12, 2011
Cults, Religion, and the Presidency
Reverend Robert Jeffress notoriously claimed the other day that Mormonism is a cult. From the context of his remarks I don’t think he was using the term “cult” as a term of approbation. So is Mormonism a cult, and is Romney’s Mormon faith relevant to his qualifications to be president?

A Brief Comment on the Wyndgate Matter

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
October 12, 2011
As most of you are aware, CFI-Michigan, one of our branches, contracted with a club in suburban Detroit—The Wyndgate—to hold an event at which Richard Dawkins had graciously agreed to speak. (In fact, the event takes place this evening.) However, once the club owner became aware that Professor Dawkins is an atheist, the club cancelled the event, refusing to honor its contract.

Happy International Blasphemy Rights Day

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
September 30, 2011
Happy International Blasphemy Rights Day! There are thousands of ways to commemorate this day—almost as many as there are prophets who have claimed the title of messenger from the gods.

End the Silence: Join Us at the Reason Rally

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
September 29, 2011
End the Silence: Join Us at the Reason Rally
The Reason Rally will take place on March 24, 2012 on the Mall in Washington, D.C. Here are some reasons you should join me and the thousands of other atheists, agnostics, and humanists who will be there.

International Blasphemy Rights Day 2011

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
September 22, 2011
International Blasphemy Rights Day 2011

So Mumtaz Qadri, the assassin of Salman Taseer, has confessed to the murder. We were hardly in suspense. Prior to his formal plea in court, Qadri had boasted of his killing Taseer. In the minds of many Pakistanis, he had reason to be proud—Taseer, the governor of Punjab province, had proposed changes to Pakistan’s harsh blasphemy laws. Allowing insults to Islam? Unimaginable. When Qadri was first brought before a court in January, he was showered with rose petals.

Without God There Is No Joy?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
September 13, 2011
Without God There Is No Joy?
As many of you are aware, CFI is currently running an ad campaign in several cities (Grand Rapids, Niagara Falls, Durham, and Washington, D.C.). This is the second phase of the “Living without Religion” campaign we launched earlier this year. The reaction to this campaign, both pro and con, demonstrates why this campaign is needed.

Religious Arrogance and the 9/11 Cross

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
September 7, 2011
Religious Arrogance and the 9/11 Cross
The planned placement of a cross-shaped piece of metal (hereinafter “the cross”) in the museum portion of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum has gained quite a bit of attention lately, including legal attention in the form of a lawsuit brought by our friends at American Atheists. Some of the attention has been generated by vigorous disagreement among nonbelievers about whether placement of the cross in the museum would be an Establishment Clause violation and should be opposed. The answers are “probably not, not with this Supreme Court” and “yes.”

Time for Action: the FDA and Homeopathic Drugs

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 30, 2011
Time for Action: the FDA and Homeopathic Drugs
The website of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, the division of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) responsible for evaluating the efficacy of drugs, proudly proclaims that it “promotes and protects the health of Americans by assuring that all prescription and over-the-counter drugs are safe and effective.” (bolding in original) Sadly, this is not a true statement. The FDA allows homeopathic drugs to be marketed without requiring the manufacturers to establish that their drugs are effective for their intended use. This free pass to homeopathic junk needs to stop, and that is why CFI and CSI have filed a formal petition asking the FDA to hold homeopathic over-the-counter drugs to the same standards as conventional (i.e., real) medicine.

Boiron, Please Sue Us

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 17, 2011
Boiron, Please Sue Us
As you know, the Center for Inquiry (CFI) and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) have publicly rebuked Wal-Mart for marketing homeopathic junk, in particular a product called Oscillococcinum, a purported remedy for flu. We are now inviting the product’s manufacturer, Boiron, to sue us. Here’s why.

Science Is Self-Correcting ... Sort Of

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 16, 2011
One of the claimed advantages of scientific inquiry as a mode of acquiring knowledge is that it is a self-correcting enterprise.  For example, if someone claims to have discovered a process for cold fusion, that incorrect claim can be shown to be false or unwarranted by further research and scientific testing.  This rosy picture of the scientific enterprise suggests that scientific errors will be recognized and corrected, with false claims falling by the wayside during science’s inexorable march forward. 

Is It Permissible To Question A Candidate About Her Religious Beliefs?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 12, 2011
Is It Permissible To Question A Candidate About Her Religious Beliefs?
Some have criticized the reporter who asked Michele Bachmann during the GOP debate last night whether she would be “submissive” to her husband were she elected president. I think this criticism is unfounded. Given Bachmann’s own statements, this was a legitimate question.

Women in Secularism

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 4, 2011
Are men over-represented at humanist, atheist, and skeptic conferences and in the leadership of humanist, atheist, and skeptic organizations? Does the work of female writers and scholars tend to be overlooked? Does our movement need to become more diverse? Should we give careful consideration to the relationship between feminism and secularism?

Proposed Circumcision Ban Fails To Reach Ballot

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
July 29, 2011
California Superior Court Judge Loretta Giorgi has removed a proposed ban on male circumcision in San Francisco from the city’s November ballot.  She based her ruling on two grounds: the likely conflict between the proposed law and the First Amendment’s guarantee of free exercise of religion and the certain preemption of the local ordinance by state law, which has exclusive authority to regulate medical procedures.

Rick Perry Is a Lying Demagogue

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
July 18, 2011
Rick Perry Is a Lying Demagogue
Rick Perry is a lying demagogue who is contemptuous of the First Amendment and whose god is a monster. 

What Does It Mean To Say Muhammad Existed?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
July 14, 2011
What Does It Mean To Say Muhammad Existed?
Agamemnon. Robin Hood. Jesus. Muhammad. Many stories are told about individuals with these names. Did any of these individuals actually exist?  To answer that question, we must first address some logically prior ones:  What does it mean to assert that an individual existed?  Are there certain key statements about a person which must be true before we can conclude the claim of existence has been confirmed?

What the Catholic Church Wants

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
June 27, 2011
At times, the Catholic Church resembles a hulking, maladroit dinosaur. But give it some credit. It knows when its vital interests are at stake. This explains its determined opposition to same-sex marriage and assisted dying, as well as its notorious obsession with forcing women to bear children. The Church will do all it can to preserve its authority, and in doing so it focuses on the most critical decisions we make during our lives. Control: that’s what the Church wants and needs.

Thanks, Derek

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
June 12, 2011

As Derek Araujo stated in his post a few days ago, he is resigning his position at CFI to pursue graduate studies in physics.  Let’s see . . . with his existing law degree from Harvard and now an upcoming PhD in physics from Columbia, this means Derek will become Master of the Universe in about four years time.  The good news is that it seems he will be a benign Overlord, and will treat us lesser beings kindly. 

Much Ado About Foreskins

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
June 9, 2011
Much Ado About Foreskins
On the ballot in San Francisco this November will be a proposal to make it a criminal offense to perform a circumcision on a male under the age of 18. Should secular individuals — who obviously have no religious motivation to carry out such a procedure — support the ban? No. The proposed ban is a singularly bad idea.

The Legacy of Jack Kevorkian

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
June 7, 2011
The Legacy of Jack Kevorkian
Dr. Jack Kevorkian died Friday. To say that Kevorkian was a controversial figure would be an understatement. Controversy was what he sought, and he was not disappointed.

Blame It on the ‘60s

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
May 18, 2011
The Catholic Church says permissive culture contributed to priests' abuse of minors

Think Only a Few Fools Believe in the Rapture? Think Again.

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
May 3, 2011
It might not happen on May 21, but it will happen

Atheism, Humanism, and “Interfaith” Coalitions

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
April 25, 2011
Atheism, Humanism, and “Interfaith” Coalitions
Nonbelievers should be very hesitant about embracing the term "faith"

Three Dimensions of Morality

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
April 21, 2011
Three Dimensions of Morality
In what ways is humanist ethics superior to religious ethics?

Outsourcing Justice

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
April 6, 2011
Outsourcing Justice
The decision to try the 9/11 conspirators in Cuba

Blasphemy in Pakistan, Blasphemy Here

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 30, 2011
Blasphemy in Pakistan, Blasphemy Here
Events in Pakistan remind us of the importance of the right to blaspheme

Should We Care Whether Others Believe in God?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 24, 2011
Should We Care Whether Others Believe in God?
A discussion of the extent to which religious belief is important

Something to Fear?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 21, 2011
Two recent studies discuss susceptibility to fear and religious belief

Basketball, Sex, and Honor Codes

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 18, 2011
Comments on BYU's understanding of "honor"

You don’t need God—to hope, to care, to love, to live.

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 1, 2011
You don’t need God—to hope, to care, to love, to live.
Millions of people have rewarding, fulfilling lives without religion

Of Guns and Fetuses

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 28, 2011
Of Guns and Fetuses
These perennial obsessions of the Religious Right are assuming prominence once again

Law Review

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 22, 2011
Law Review
A few remarks on Stephen Law's new book on humanism

The Republicans and Social Conservatives: Is This Marriage Still Strong?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 14, 2011
The Republicans and Social Conservatives: Is This Marriage Still Strong?
Whether the call for "limited government" will affect the agenda of social conservatives

To Walmart: Stop Lying to Your Customers

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 1, 2011
To Walmart: Stop Lying to Your Customers
Why Walmart should stop marketing homeopathic products as flu remedies

Christian Silliness

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
January 14, 2011
Christian Silliness
In Florida, a state senator wants "Merry Christmas" to be the official greeting for December 25

The Murders in Arizona and Pakistan

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
January 9, 2011
Reflections on political assassination and freedom of expression

The Persistence of Rubbish

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
December 30, 2010
The Persistence of Rubbish
A Wall Street Journal column provides a reminder of the durability of religious mythology

Should Atheists Ground Santa?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
December 22, 2010
Should Atheists Ground Santa?
Disputes among the nonreligious about the harm caused by the Santa fantasy

Unsought Christmas Combat

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
December 16, 2010
Unsought Christmas Combat
Christians don't need to appropriate the courthouse to celebrate Christmas

Two Travesties

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
December 10, 2010
Two Travesties
Justifying censorship in China and the United States

Cassocks and Condoms

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
November 24, 2010
Cassocks and Condoms
Observations on the work of theologians

The Triumph of Law

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
November 17, 2010
The Triumph of Law
Stephen Law debates Christian philosopher Alvin Plantinga

Oklahoma Stumbles on Sharia

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
November 11, 2010
Oklahoma Stumbles on Sharia
A pointless constitutional amendment gets blocked by a federal court

The Election

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
November 1, 2010
The Election
In this mid-term, some candidates treat the Constitution as their Bible, and they interpret it just as mindlessly

At CFI, We Don’t Consider Debate a Strategic Blunder

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
October 20, 2010
At CFI, We Don’t Consider Debate a Strategic Blunder
Matt Nisbet objects to PZ Myers speaking at our conference

A Bittersweet Farewell

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
September 30, 2010
A Bittersweet Farewell
Ibn Warraq Has a New Position

Commemorate Blasphemy Rights Day—Have a Bake Sale or Read the Bible

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
September 26, 2010
Commemorate Blasphemy Rights Day—Have a Bake Sale or Read the Bible
International Blasphemy Rights Day is September 30

Is Religion A Good Thing?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
September 21, 2010
We'd like to hear from you on the question of whether religion is, on balance, beneficial for humanity.

The Pope’s Sales Pitch

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
September 19, 2010
The Pope’s Sales Pitch
Benedict denounces secularism as he tries to market the Church

The (Canceled) Burning of the Koran

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
September 9, 2010
Don't burn books; read them

If You Want an Enhancing Experience, Be in Philadelphia in December

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
September 3, 2010
A forthcoming conference on human enhancement technology

Adult Reasoning About Embryos

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 27, 2010
Adult Reasoning About Embryos
Religious dogma obstructs research ... again

Onward Christian Soldiers

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 20, 2010
Onward Christian Soldiers
The military requires spiritual exercises

That Mosque

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 16, 2010
That Mosque
The government should keep its distance from this controversy

Being Moral: A Humanist (and Humean) Perspective

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 12, 2010
Being Moral: A Humanist (and Humean) Perspective
The responsibility for choosing to act morally ultimately lies with us

Perry v. Schwarzenneger

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 4, 2010
A federal district court rules in favor of equal rights for gays and lesbians

Which of the Founders Was a Deist? Who Cares?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 4, 2010
Which of the Founders Was a Deist? Who Cares?
It's what the Founders did that was important, not what they thought about Jesus

Truly Offensive Speech

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
July 22, 2010
Truly Offensive Speech
Even idiots have a right to free expression

Impossible Music Sessions—Striking the Right Note

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
July 7, 2010
Impossible Music Sessions—Striking the Right Note
Banned musicians get an opportunity to perform, at least by proxy

Religion Creep

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
June 24, 2010
Religion Creep
Let's subcontract everything to the churches

What Is the Purpose of Morality?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
June 19, 2010
What Is the Purpose of Morality?
A consideration of what we should be trying to achieve through our moral norms

Should We Shield the Religious from Offensive Forms of Expression?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
June 3, 2010
Any claim about reality is fair game for examination and criticism

Should we support SHARE?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
May 22, 2010
Should we support SHARE?
A discussion of secular giving

A Clarification

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
May 20, 2010
A clarification of one of last week's posts

Irresponsible Criticism of CFI

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
May 13, 2010
Irresponsible Criticism of CFI
Comments on Paul Kurtz's Latest Critique

Should We Sit Down for Humanism?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
May 13, 2010
Should We Sit Down for Humanism?
How should we deal with public ceremonies that reference God

Humanism and Atheism

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
April 22, 2010
Humanism and Atheism
Secular humanism: if it's not broken, don't fix it

CFI: Home to Both Atheist Fundamentalists and Religion-Loving Wankers?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
April 14, 2010
Comments on a PZ Myers blog post

Sometimes The Market Works

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
April 13, 2010
Sometimes The Market Works
A pharmacy should not be a pulpit

Thank You Justice Stevens

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
April 9, 2010
Thank You Justice Stevens
A great jurist and defender of church-state separation retires

Atheist Money Is Terrifying

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
April 1, 2010
We have made some progress, but we still have a long way to go

Atheism, Humanism and the Neo-Humanist Statement

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 22, 2010
Perhaps the Neo-Humanist Statement is a diamond in the rough, but it certainly needs polishing

Religious Dogma and the Health Care Debate

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 18, 2010
Religious Dogma and the Health Care Debate
Catholic bishops and their allies may abort health care

That Swedish Cartoon of Mohammed Was Offensive ...

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 11, 2010
That Swedish Cartoon of Mohammed Was Offensive ...
Islam deserves no protection from sharp criticism, but neither do other religions

No National Day of Prayer? An Impartial Texas School Board? Yes, It Is Possible

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 4, 2010
No National Day of Prayer? An Impartial Texas School Board? Yes, It Is Possible
Two recent developments provide some hope to supporters of church-state separation

What Constitutes A Church?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 25, 2010
Is a bad boys' club for legislators entitled to tax-exempt status?

Was That Fishers of Men or Fighters of Men?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 25, 2010
Was That Fishers of Men or Fighters of Men?
Turn the other cheek, and then throw a devastating punch

The Geert Wilders Trial

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 4, 2010
The Geert Wilders Trial
We should be concerned about this attempt to punish free speech

Be Careful What You Call God

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
January 28, 2010
Be Careful What You Call God
Allah is not for everyone

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up—Bible Verses on Gun Sights

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
January 21, 2010
Jesus is packing heat

One Cheer (Amid a Chorus of Boos) for Pat Robertson

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
January 14, 2010
One Cheer (Amid a Chorus of Boos) for Pat Robertson
Pat's God is the God of the ordinary believer and we should not pretend otherwise

Two Cheers for Google

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
January 14, 2010
Two Cheers for Google
Google takes a principled stand for free speech and against the Chinese government

God and Sex, Part 2

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
January 7, 2010
Full-body scanners may have an unexpected benefit

God and Sex, Part 1

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
January 7, 2010
The power of God's loving embrace

Great News from Montana Regarding Assisted Dying!

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
December 31, 2009
The Montana Supreme Court has ruled that Montana law does not prevent the terminally ill from receiving assistance in dying

A Provocative Critique of Religious Beliefs—from Believers

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
December 31, 2009
A Provocative Critique of Religious Beliefs—from Believers
Some religious understand the importance -- and legitimacy -- of blasphemy better than some humanists

Merry Christmas: Liu Xiaobo Will Be Sentenced Tomorrow

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
December 24, 2009
Liu Xiaobo and the struggle for freedom in China

Was Oral Roberts Sincere? Does It Matter?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
December 17, 2009
Was Oral Roberts Sincere? Does It Matter?
Not all ignorance is excusable

A Door Closing ... or Opening?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
December 9, 2009
A Door Closing ... or Opening?
Comments on D.J. Grothe's departure

Religion Gets Good Results

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
December 3, 2009
Religion Gets Good Results
God is too important for nonbelievers to ignore

Health Care and Human Rights

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
November 19, 2009
Health Care and Human Rights
Fiscal responsibility is one aspect of moral responsibility

Humanism and Hugs

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
November 12, 2009
Humanism and Hugs
Humanism shall not interfere with the free exercise of hugs

Another Day, Another Dispute Over Religious Symbols

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
November 11, 2009
Another Day, Another Dispute Over Religious Symbols
The "I believe" license plate encounters a judge who believes in the Constitution

Petitioners and Privacy

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
November 5, 2009
Petitioners and Privacy
There is no need to disclose the names of petitioners to the public

Half-Measures on Gay Rights?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
October 29, 2009
Gays and lesbians are entitled to equal protection under the law, not just inclusion in hate crimes legislation.

Have “Atheist Fundamentalists” Taken Over CFI?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
October 21, 2009
Have “Atheist Fundamentalists” Taken Over CFI?
The only dogma at CFI is that there is no dogma

Celebrity Rape and Justice

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
October 8, 2009
Celebrity Rape and Justice
Polanski should receive his next award in prison

Oh, God! Yet More About Blasphemy Day?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
October 2, 2009
Why CFI Commemorated Blasphemy Day

Two Different Understandings of Blasphemy—Two Different Visions of CFI

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
September 29, 2009
Two Different Understandings of Blasphemy—Two Different Visions of CFI
Ronald A. Lindsay Defends CFI's Commemoration of Blasphemy Day -- Against CFI Founder Paul Kurtz

The Importance of Blasphemy

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
September 23, 2009
The Importance of Blasphemy
Religion should not be immune from examination and criticism

Atheists and Religious Garb

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
September 16, 2009
Atheists and Religious Garb
Clothing is a form of expression; let the religious wear what they want

When Should We Prohibit Offensive Speech?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
September 4, 2009
When Should We Prohibit Offensive Speech?
All speech must be allowed -- the good, the bad, and the repulsive.

How Religion May Affect Your Medical Care

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 28, 2009
How Religion May Affect Your Medical Care
Some pharmacists want their religion to trump your medical needs

Humanism and Health Care

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 25, 2009
Humanism and Health Care
The contributions humanism can make to the health care debate

Therapy to Support Your Faith—and Suppress Yourself

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 6, 2009
The APA endorses therapy to suppress the sexual desires of gays and lesbians.

The Koran-The Official American Version

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
July 30, 2009
The Koran-The Official American Version
Uncle Sam shouldn't be deciding which religious text is best.

Humanist, Atheist, Agnostic? Share Your Story

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
June 22, 2009
Spread the good news of disbelief.

The Importance of the Voices of Others (A Personal Story)

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
June 19, 2009
Protecting the right of others to speak preserves opportunities for us to change.

Religion and Politics—A Taxing Issue

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
June 10, 2009
God wants your vote -- and campaign contributions

Obama’s Supreme Court Nominee—Let’s Avoid Surprises

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
May 19, 2009
Obama's best choice for the Supreme Court?

Religious and Secular Cults: Leaders and Followers

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
May 13, 2009
Cults: Let Beloved Leader do your thinking for you.

The Big M

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
May 1, 2009
Ronnie does NOT explain it all for you.

Politics, Hypocrisy, and Torture

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
April 23, 2009
The Democrats' hands are not exactly clean when it comes to torture.

The Numbers Game

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
April 21, 2009
Counting nonbelievers -- does it matter? Why?

The Premature Burial of the Religious Right

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 26, 2009
The Premature Burial of the Religious Right
Ever the optimist, Ron Lindsay perceives a vigorous heartbeat in the left-for-dead religious right.

Latest on Dawkins and Oklahoma

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 20, 2009
An update on free speech -- or the lack thereof -- in Oklahoma.

Is Kabul the Capital of Oklahoma?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 16, 2009
Some Oklahoma legislators believe only certain views may be considered by college students. Atheism isn't on the approved list.

Pay Attention to the Cross in the Doughnut Hole

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 4, 2009
Pay Attention to the Cross in the Doughnut Hole
A new Supreme Court case will provide a clue to the Obama administration's views on church-state issues.

Your Definitive Guide to Heaven in 2009 (and 2010, 2011…)

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 25, 2009
Here’s everything you need to know about heaven—oh wait, most people reading this are going to hell. OK, we’ll cover that soon.

Don’t Take That Oath!

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 11, 2009

CFI Warns Nation of God’s Wrath!

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
January 22, 2009
Ronald A. Lindsay, CFI President & CEO, informs us of God’s anger over President Obama’s acknowledgement of nonbelievers.

What Does A Commitment to Gender Equality Imply?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
January 7, 2009
Is there a humanist position on affirmative action? Pornography? If so, what is it?

Do You Think Humanists Have a Sense of Humor? Prove It.

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
January 5, 2009
CFI President and CEO Ronald A. Lindsay offers some light bulb jokes -- and challenges other humanists to do better.

Get Your Secs Here

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
December 21, 2008

Obama to Gays and Lesbians: Go to Hell

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
December 18, 2008
Obama to Gays and Lesbians: Go to Hell

Tom Flynn and Ron Lindsay discuss holiday celebrations for humanists

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
December 16, 2008
CFI President and CEO Ron Lindsay discusses humanist approaches to Christmas with the new CSH Exec. Director, Tom Flynn

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